Seneca Falls: Have we come a long way, Baby?

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott

Have we come a long way, Baby?  It has been 161 years since the Declaration of Sentiments was passed at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

Folks, the NAACP was founded 100 years ago.  I was born 100 years after Seneca Falls ~ shortly after Harry Truman was elected President.  I’ve been around 60 years, and I’m still waiting. . .and waiting. . .and waiting for equality.

Tomorrow the Equal Rights Amendment is going to be introduced again for perhaps the zillionth time.

In 1992, I was trying to extricate myself from an abusive relationship with a high-ranking judge while Anita Hill was getting bashed for speaking up about Clarence Thomas’ sexual harassment of her while he was in charge of the EEOC.  I had been a labor lawyer and was incensed that the man who was supposed to hold other men accountable for sexual harassment was engaging in the same behavior himself.  No wonder former Senator Bob Packwood (R-OR) felt free to play tongue hockey with every woman unfortunate to cross his path.

Anita Hill and Judge Sonia Sotomayor both graduated from Yale Law School as did former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Yet, all three women have been skewered and treated with abject disrespect.  Senator Lindsey Graham, who graduated from the University of South Carolina’s law school and had a modest legal career, had the audacity to give Judge Sotomayor patronizing advice about how it was going to be on the US Supreme Court under the thin guise of civility.  I was so livid I couldn’t watch anymore of the hearings.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was passionate about equality.  She refused to utter the word “obey” in her marriage vows.  She edited the Declaration of Independence to read:  “All men and women are created equal. . .”  Her first sentiment addressed domestic violence:

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.  .  .

Her sentiment about the right to vote was hotly debated and skewered by the press.  The 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote wasn’t passed for another 72 years (1920).  None of the women at Seneca Falls ever got to vote legally.

Many of her sentiments reflected her frustration that women had no voice in government.  Today there are only two women ~ Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) ~ on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  According to the New York Times, Senator Feinstein pointed out:

Although women represent 50.7% of the popluation, 48% of law school graduates and 30% of American lawyers, there are now only 17 women in the Senate and one on the Supreme Court.

When NOW elected a domestic violence survivor as their new president, I had hopes that Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s top priority would finally become the top priority of the women’s movement.  But, the old guard shut it down before Terry O’Neill took office.

2 responses to “Seneca Falls: Have we come a long way, Baby?

  1. Pingback: Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Victory Speech in Brooklyn | Anne Caroline Drake·

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Invention of Wings | Anne Caroline Drake·

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